Volunteering may require some deep perseverance. Mary Neighbour was reminded of this when she was rejected by a team.
When COVID-19 quarantine began, Northville Civic Concern reached out to Ward for extra volunteers to assist Northville and Livonia schools. Free lunch programs for financially challenged families were continuing in the school districts, but the cafeteria teams were overwhelmed by the sudden change in procedures.
“I knew I was called to bring peace and calm,” said Mary. Things were so chaotic that when she first volunteered to help, the cafeteria staff at Northville High School sent her away. After another call from Ward leaders, Mary courageously tried again. “It was clear that procedures needed to change for calm and safety,” Mary said. “Families were coming in the school to pick up their food. I was able to help brainstorm a better system that kept families in cars, and reduced the exposure of individuals.” The Blue Line, a team of retired firefighters and police, joined in to hand out food and organize the cars as they drove through.
Once the system changed, Mary was freed up to do what she does best – connect with individuals. Since most families consistently returned to pick up meals, Mary learned names of parents, kids and dogs. “One young mom was noticeably pregnant – then we didn’t see them for a while. So it was fun when they drove up with a baby on board.”
Connecting with individual families also opened up opportunities to see God at work. “A young mom came through and told me she would be returning to work, and she did not know how she would be able to pick up the meals for her children. I wrote down her name and address, and told her something would work out. Two cars later, a woman came through picking up a large number of meals that she delivered to various homes. When I asked whether she knew the location of the mom’s address, she told me that she not only knew where it was, but it was right where she was delivering other meals – and she was glad to help the family out.”
Mary volunteered with the program until it ended in June. Despite it being a challenge in the beginning, she was sad to see the time end. “I always ask God, ‘What am I called to do?’” said Mary. She has learned that when God is sending her, blessing will come through persevering.
Opportunities to serve through Ward Church are opening up. Interested in finding a spot? Contact Cindy Ziemba, Director of Volunteer Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.